Family Trouble For THE HERO–Excerpt and Review

the-hero-bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a release day review for a new military/spy romance from Donna Grant. THE HERO is the first book in her Sons of Texas series featuring the Loughman brothers trying to save their father from the Russians, the world from a bioweapon, and maybe finding love.

the-hero-coverAbout the book:
Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget – his high school sweetheart, Natalie. After over a decade away, Owen is returned home to the ranch in Texas for a dangerous new mission that puts him face-to-face with Natalie and an outside menace that threatens everything he holds dear. He’ll risk it all to keep Natalie safe – and win her heart. . . .

Natalie Dixon has had a lifetime of heartache since Owen was deployed. Fourteen years and one bad marriage later, she finds herself mixed up with the Loughman’s again. With her life on the line against an enemy she can’t fight alone, it’s Owen’s strong shoulders, smoldering eyes, and sensuous smile that she turns to. When danger closes in, she holds close to the only man she’s ever loved…

How about a little taste?

The days of Natalie going back to her house to have a glass of wine and watch episodes of Criminal Minds or Doctor Who were long gone. Ever since the day she saw Ragnarok in that report and called the number Orrin had given her, her life had changed.

That’s when she and Callie had begun talking several times a day.

The sound of another chopper flying low overhead caused her to glance up. It looked like another military helicopter, which immediately made her think of Owen. Again.

She sighed. After all the wasted years, she thought he’d be gone from her thoughts. It seemed she was forever wrong when it came to him.

“There’s another one. I’m betting it’s them,” Callie said.

“Think there’s any way I can look around without them knowing?”

“You mean without Owen knowing? Doubt it.”

She knew Callie was right, but that didn’t mean Natalie had to like it.

“How’s work?” Callie asked.

Because she worked for the Russian Embassy, and she wasn’t sure if they listened to her conversations, she and Callie never spoke of her work. The fact that Callie brought it up meant there was a reason.

“Busy. I had a hard time getting away.”

“Time isn’t on our side.”

Of that, she was clearly aware. “How long do you think we have?”

“I don’t know. Everything hinges on finding it.”

It being Ragnarok—a bioweapon.

How different her life would be if Orrin hadn’t contacted her in July. She wouldn’t be embroiled in kidnapping, espionage, and murder.

And yet . . . it felt as if this were the exact place she needed to be.

Then again, that could be her heart trying to convince her this all led back to Owen. As far as she was concerned, men were pigs. She’d had enough of the lies, the cheating, and the bullshit that always went with dating.

She was happy living the single life, not having to clean up after anyone, share her closet, compromise on where to eat or if she got to watch her favorite shows. There was no one taking her covers, snoring, or—

“Natalie?”

“Sorry,” she told Callie. “I was thinking.”

“About Owen?”

“About all of it. The shit is about to hit the fan as soon as the boys learn what’s going on.”

Callie snorted loudly. “Then let it. Where have they been these last ten years? Have they even bothered to send a fucking text? No. They have no idea how badly that hurt Orrin.”

“I doubt they think about it.” She should know. In the year she’d been with Owen, there were two things never discussed—his mother’s murder, and his feelings about his dad.

“Which just pisses me off,” Callie said tightly. “If I had a dad like Orrin, I’d never be far.”

“I know.” Callie was another who didn’t discuss her family. And with a family as infamous around Hillsboro as the Reeds, it was no wonder.

The Reeds were drunks and criminals of the worst sort. It had been Orrin who helped Callie escape all of that. And why she thought of Orrin as a father.

“We have to find him,” Callie said.

Natalie slowed the car and put on her blinker as she prepared to pull onto the Loughman Ranch. “We will, Callie. We will.”

“Even if we have to do it on our own. If the jackasses Orrin calls sons won’t help, then I’ll make sure they’re not around to interfere.”

That made Natalie smile. If anyone could do that, it was Callie. What she lacked in height, Callie made up for in intelligence and talking rings around people. Few could keep up with her.

“I just turned into the ranch.” She felt a flutter in her stomach.

Excitement or dread? She wasn’t sure she knew.

My Review:
Natalie and Owen were high school sweethearts. Natalie’s heart was broken when Owen left for college the day after graduation, without a word, or a look back. She went on to college and studied languages. Fourteen years pass. An expert in Russian, Natalie spent years in St. Petersburg before recently returning to her Dallas roots to work for the Russian Embassy.

She hasn’t been home long when Owen’s father, Orrin, asks for a favor. Knowing that he’d been a Navy SEAL, and still mourns his wife’s murder 20 years before, Natalie’s eager to help. Getting info on Ragnarok, a top-secret bioweapon, wasn’t exactly what she’d expected.

Owen and his three brothers are pulled from their covert assignments and dropped off at their family ranch to discover their family in shambles. Wyatt, a black ops Delta Force Marine, Owen, a Navy SEAL, and Cullen, a Marine recon specialist, haven’t seen each other in person for years. Their family crumbled after their mother’s murder, and with their hostility toward their father. Learning that their aunt and uncle have been murdered, and their father kidnapped after stealing Ragnarok from the Russians, sets these three on high alert. Aided by Natalie, Callie and Mia, these sons of Texas need to save the world…now.

As a reader, I wasn’t impressed with the set-up. I thought it was too vague, too cloak-and-dagger to have these guys literally air-dropped on their ranch with no government contact. Callie worked directly for Orrin, and she and Natalie had some limited knowledge of the Ragnarok mission, but it felt contrived and unrealistic to have these gals do the heavy job of debriefing the Loughmans, and setting up the plan of attack on recovering the bioweapon and Orrin. I was mystified that Owen has such a strong reaction to seeing Natalie, in comparison to his rather muted emotional response to the deaths of his beloved aunt and uncle, and his missing father. For me, this felt superficial and hollow, and it didn’t endear me.

I did appreciate that Natalie was really torn over her feelings for Owen. She loved him once, and his cowardly way of disappearing was hard to take. Still, it’s been a long time, with no contact, and both Owen and Natalie are very much preoccupied with their rekindled flame, as opposed to the present dangers. Natalie’s been targeted by Russian assassins and they keep dashing off on reconnaissance missions to determine what it is they are dealing with, and who the major players are. The best scenes were those narrated by Orrin in captivity. He’s such a stalwart man, unwilling to compromise any of his sons, even as he’s tortured.

Essentially, this is a romance with some spy/suspense elements. There’s a little bit of sexytimes, but not much, considering all the internal battles these folks wage regarding their attraction. The conflict isn’t resolved at the end, though Owen and Natalie are completely reunited. Expect Cullen to find love in the next book, and (hopefully) he and his lucky lady might rescue his father, too.

Interested? You can find THE HERO on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM, IndieBound, iBooks, Kobo, and Tantor Audio. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Want more info on the Sons of Texas series?
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The Protector (Sons of Texas, #2)THE PROTECTOR will be out January 3rd.
Check out the awesome pre-order incentive going on now for Donna’s new military romance series!!

Pre-order THE PROTECTOR you will receive a bonus scene that features Owen and Natalie from THE HERO. The scene will NOT be shared anywhere else. It will be exclusive to those who pre-order THE PROTECTOR and fill out this form.

To be entered you MUST FILL OUT THE FORM. All pre-orders are acceptable as long as you have an order number from the retailer you purchased from.

Pre-order THE PROTECTOR on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM, iBooks, IndieBound, Kobo, Powells, and Tantor Audio.

donna_grant_newAbout the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. Her latest acclaimed series, Dark Kings, features a thrilling combination of dragons, Fae, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children and an assortment of animals in Texas.

Catch up with Donna on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Tumblr, Audible, and Tantor.
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